Meet Jan Collins - Golf's very own Captain Tom!

Jan Collins Main

By now, most people will have heard of Captain Tom Moore, the indefatigable former British Army officer who raised more than £30million for the NHS by completing 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday last month.

As he enjoys a well-earned and well-deserved rest, another big-hearted senior citizen has picked up the lockdown fundraising baton – or rather the ‘fundraising golf club’.

Ninety-year-old Jan Collins, from Troon, has set himself the target of playing 1,000 holes on a purpose-built golf course in his back garden before he celebrates his birthday on June 10.

Jan, a member of the Collins Dictionary publishing dynasty and a former Over-85 Wimbledon tennis champion, has enlisted the support of junior golf pioneers GolPhin to help him reach his goal.

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What makes his effort all the more remarkable is that Jan was diagnosed in August 2015 with Stage 4 prostate cancer, for which he is still undergoing treatment.

GolPhin founder Calum McPherson told bunkered.co.uk: “Jan is a wonderful gentlemen and has partnered with on various junior golf projects over the last few years.

Jan Collins 2

“He’s an incredibly enthusiastic golfer, too, with memberships at Prestwick, Royal Troon and Turnberry. Prior to lockdown, he was playing up to four rounds a week and

“As it has for many people, the current COVID-19 pandemic has left him feeling a bit down, which is very out of character for him.

“I spoke to him on the phone a couple of weeks ago and he told me how much he was missing his golf, so, knowing that he has a pretty big garden, I offered to build him a pretty basic pitch and putt course so that he could get out there, enjoy the nice weather and get his golf fix.”

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Together with his son Ben, and using equipment kindly loaned to him by the greenkeepers at West Kilbride Golf Club, McPherson fashioned a five-hole golf course in Jan’s back garden.

“It’s probably the only golf course in Scotland that’s currently open,” laughed McPherson. “All the holes are around 30 to 40 yards long. He’s able to use his own clubs and balls to practice his short game and, if he decides he wants to hit some full shots, we’ve given him some of our ‘Flipper’ balls that are usually aimed at juniors and used for our kids’ programme.

Jan Collins 3

“He’s got a full-time carer who is able to keep a watchful eye on him and his dog Rosie is also on hand to go and retrieve any balls that he knocks into the bushes.”

Delighted with his new ‘home course’, Jan quickly decided he would try to use it to do some good.

Accordingly, the Garden Golf Challenge was born.

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Jan set himself the target of playing 1,000 holes on the course before he celebrates his 91st birthday to raise money for Marie Curie and the STV Children’s Appeal.

“I am delighted to be playing golf again during lockdown and doing it in a way to raise funds to help people who are suffering such hardship from Coronavirus particularly those suffering from terminal illnesses and children living in poverty,” said Jan.

“With the cancellation of fundraising events and closure of shops, Marie Curie needs funding more than ever to provide vital care to people with terminal illnesses, whilst the STV Children’s Appeal is raising critical funds to help children living in poverty who have been hit worst than others by the Coronavirus crisis.”

McPherson added: “It’s a really heartwarming story and is a true inspiration to us all. He had set himself the target of raising £5,000 but has already smashed that. He is well on track to complete his challenge, too, having played 400 holes already. There’s no stopping him!”

• To find out how you can donate to Jan Collins’ Garden Golf Challenge, click here.

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